Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Talk about any rules that don't directly fall under personal combat
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DRaziel29
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Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by DRaziel29 » 18 Oct 2016, 16:18

Greetings to all.

I am a rather novice tabletop roleplay enthusiast. I have never played Riddle of Steel or any of its successors, but I am really interested in their realistic play style and I've checked their respective sourcebooks.
First of all, congratulations for the amazing job you are doing with this game. You have managed to get rid of many unnecessary complexities of the original game, and have designed a simple, yet deep core rule system. There are a couple of things that bother me, though:

1) The Speed attribute seems a bit underpowered to me. As far as I can see, its only uses are reflex rolls, a few skills, and speed contests in battle. You might say the speed contests are really important, but the players can still add dice from the combat pool, which is derived from Cunning and Agility. Why should I spend points on Speed when I can invest them on Cunning or Agility?
I am not saying Speed is useless, but I think it is clearly less useful than the rest.

2) Dodging is treated the same as any other maneuver and doesn’t benefit from having greater Speed or Agility. In fact, in this game, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between dodging and parrying, except the 2 dice penalty for taking the initiative. The same happens with the terrain rolls. I think that having these rolls be affected by Speed would make this stat more useful.

2b) In fact, if one character doesn’t have any combat proficiencies, that means he has almost no chance of dodging. Why is this so, when dodging is made without weapons?

3) You have decided to use the same TN for every weapon. This greatly simplifies things. However, doesn’t that mean that a bigger, unwieldy weapon, like a zweihander, is straight out better than a smaller one? Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be a strength requirement for heavy weapons.

4) Combat and Ranged pools are made out of the same base attributes. This is not necessarily something bad, but it means you can easily create a character skilled in both melee and ranged combat. I think it would be better if at least one of the base stats were different.

5) The ranged combat is great but, I feel distance is not as important as it should be. There doesn’t seem to be a difference between firing a bow at 30 and 90 yards. Or at 8 and 20 yards.

6) If I understand correctly, a shot against an unaware, non-moving target at an optimal range is made with all the ranged pool invested in the placement roll, right? That means the target is almost surely dead. Isn’t that too easy?
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higgins
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by higgins » 19 Oct 2016, 04:24

Welcome to the boards Draziel! :)
DRaziel29 wrote:1) The Speed attribute seems a bit underpowered to me.
Could easily be that you're sometimes (out of habit from other games) substituting Agility where you should use Speed instead.
DRaziel29 wrote:2) Dodging is treated the same as any other maneuver and doesn’t benefit from having greater Speed or Agility. In fact, in this game, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between dodging and parrying, except the 2 dice penalty for taking the initiative.
What further difference would you expect them to have?
DRaziel29 wrote:The same happens with the terrain rolls.
And I thought you said you never played TROS ;) We use positioning in 'Bastards, not terrain rolls.
DRaziel29 wrote:2b) In fact, if one character doesn’t have any combat proficiencies, that means he has almost no chance of dodging. Why is this so, when dodging is made without weapons?
How has this person learned to judge the measure and the potential of their opponent's reach if they have no combat training?
DRaziel29 wrote:3) You have decided to use the same TN for every weapon. This greatly simplifies things. However, doesn’t that mean that a bigger, unwieldy weapon, like a zweihander, is straight out better than a smaller one?
There's more moving parts to our game than just the raw damage number. We have environmental terms such as cramped terrain which put bigger weapons at a disadvantage. And that big weapon is pretty useless when you get grappled, etc.

And sure, there can be speed differences between different weapons in real life, but you simply have to draw a line and stop modelling at some point. Plus if we gave worse TNs to some weapons, they'd be chosen less often and we wouldn't have the glorious mishmash of different weapons being used, as was so characteristic to real-life Renaissance.
DRaziel29 wrote:Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be a strength requirement for heavy weapons.
Correct. There are no requirements. I've yet to meet a person not able to pick up a weapon unless they're six years old or less. If they don't know how to handle it, then it's part of their lack of proficiency already.

P.S.
There's no strength requirement for armor either.
DRaziel29 wrote:4) Combat and Ranged pools are made out of the same base attributes. This is not necessarily something bad, but it means you can easily create a character skilled in both melee and ranged combat. I think it would be better if at least one of the base stats were different.
We thought about it, but decided that 1-2 die difference wasn't worth the game-mechanical confusion. If you think differently, feel free to make a lever. :)
DRaziel29 wrote:5) The ranged combat is great but, I feel distance is not as important as it should be. There doesn’t seem to be a difference between firing a bow at 30 and 90 yards. Or at 8 and 20 yards.
Yes, we skipped the "50" yardpost and went straight from 25 to 100 by design. If we'd added a 50, then we'd need to divide most ranged weapons to "up to 50" and "50+" categories, and that's a HUUUUGE can of worms, as there's always some kind of exceptions. Doesn't really matter if the exceptions would stem from skill (or the lack of it), luck factor or from pure misinformation. In any case, huge arguing would ensue. Guaranteed. With 25 to 100, there's somewhat less granularity in the system, but almost zero chance of anyone arguing about it. We want you guys to play, not argue.
DRaziel29 wrote:6) If I understand correctly, a shot against an unaware, non-moving target at an optimal range is made with all the ranged pool invested in the placement roll, right? That means the target is almost surely dead. Isn’t that too easy?
Don't forget that the environment increases Ob as well. That means the target is also out in the open at in optimal lighting conditions (not a good position for them).

I have three main replies for this:
a) It depends on the hit location. Even if you skip low and aim high, you may strike an arm instead. So, if you want to avoid arms, you need to cover that wheel with a die. Then you're going for a kill anyway.
b) If you shot someone in the face with a crossbow in a game, which would you prefer: them going down, or them getting angry and coming at you?
c) Ambushes have worked for EXTREMELY well for several millenia. Why shouldn't they work in our game? :)
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Benedict
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by Benedict » 19 Oct 2016, 06:02

Welcome. :D
DRaziel29 wrote:1) The Speed attribute seems a bit underpowered to me. As far as I can see, its only uses are reflex rolls, a few skills, and speed contests in battle. You might say the speed contests are really important, but the players can still add dice from the combat pool, which is derived from Cunning and Agility. Why should I spend points on Speed when I can invest them on Cunning or Agility?
I am not saying Speed is useless, but I think it is clearly less useful than the rest.
1. Reflex checks is not a small thing.
2. A few skills. What do these few skills do? Enable you to move during Skirmish. Not a small thing by far.
3. Speed Contests. A successful preemptive attack can change the course of an entire melee.
As you see you have many reasons to use Speed as well.
DRaziel29 wrote:2) Dodging is treated the same as any other maneuver and doesn’t benefit from having greater Speed or Agility. In fact, in this game, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between dodging and parrying, except the 2 dice penalty for taking the initiative. The same happens with the terrain rolls. I think that having these rolls be affected by Speed would make this stat more useful.
Yes, but what does Dodge exactly does, and how this is affected by your gear and your opponent?
1. Block requires that you have a shield at hand. No shield no block.
2a. Parry either requires you have a weapon at hand. If not you must do it barehanded, opening yourself to potential injury.
2b. Parry establishes blade to blade contact, enabling your opponent to use Wind on the following Tempo. Dodge doesn't.
DRaziel29 wrote:2b) In fact, if one character doesn’t have any combat proficiencies, that means he has almost no chance of dodging. Why is this so, when dodging is made without weapons?
He does get CP equal to Agility+Cunning even with zero proficiencies. That's the base ability. He could for example have a high (8+) Brawling proficiency. He still dodges without a weapon at hand, but that brawler can do it a lot better than someone clueless to combat. :)
DRaziel29 wrote:3) You have decided to use the same TN for every weapon. This greatly simplifies things. However, doesn’t that mean that a bigger, unwieldy weapon, like a zweihander, is straight out better than a smaller one? Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be a strength requirement for heavy weapons.
higgins wrote:Correct. There are no requirements. I've yet to meet a person not able to pick up a weapon unless they're six years old or less. If they don't know how to handle it, then it's part of their lack of proficiency already.

P.S.
There's no strength requirement for armor either.
True. Still I believe that heavier weapons should have a CP penalty like armor, not different TNs.
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Korbel
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by Korbel » 19 Oct 2016, 08:12

DRaziel29 wrote:Why should I spend points on Speed when I can invest them on Cunning or Agility?
Well, maybe if your Cunning and Agility is 4 already, you might decide not to buy the fifth dot in them (which costs double), but increase the Speed instead. Maybe. But in general, I would personally favor Agility and Cunning, too. They seem to give you more benefits.
DRaziel29 wrote:In fact, if one character doesn’t have any combat proficiencies, that means he has almost no chance of dodging. Why is this so, when dodging is made without weapons?
I suppose a complete lack of fighting skills would be pretty rare in the game. Even peasants will generally know something about daggers or brawling. The world was quite dangerous and they were expected to protect themselves and their friends, right? My vision is, many people have Tier 2 in Proficiencies, which is the minimum possible if you don't want to be left with zero points. So, with average scores in Agility and Cunning, this gives you CPs of 7 or 8, usually. That's always something, right?
And don't forget there is also the Disengage maneuver, which is kinda like dodging/running away. And it has TN of 5, increasing the chances of a successful defense.
higgins wrote: We thought about it, but decided that 1-2 die difference wasn't worth the game-mechanical confusion. If you think differently, feel free to make a lever.
Yeah, just call it: "Speed is King", or something. With Speed/Cunning for melee, and Agility/Cunning for ranged pools.
And don't forget to modify the rules for Contest of Speed - no need to start with a pool equal to your Speed score, if this Attribute is calculated into CP already. So, everyone starts with 0 and just uses dice from his CP.
Benedict wrote:2b. Parry establishes blade to blade contact, enabling your opponent to use Wind on the following Tempo. Dodge doesn't.
And Parries give you the option to use augmentations like Counter or Expulsion.
And there is another difference, though not directly involving those maneuvers - when you use Advanced Defensive Maneuvers, the Parry-based one (Deflect&Strike) does not have disadvantage for the defensive part... but Slip&Strike (Dodge-based) does.
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thirtythr33
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by thirtythr33 » 19 Oct 2016, 10:57

In regards to the importance of Speed:

Speed gives the following:
Applies to no skills.
+1 to Reflexes.
+1 dice to Contest of Speed when Preempting.

Cunning gives the following:
Applies to ~10 skills.
+1 to Reflexes.
+1 to Perception.
+1 to Combat Pool, which can be used for fighting or also in a Contest of Speed when Preempting.
higgins wrote:Could easily be that you're sometimes (out of habit from other games) substituting Agility where you should use Speed instead.
I would contend that it is actually BoBs descriptions that have made this error, not DRaziel29. I just read through EVERY skill description and NONE of them gives an example of when to use Speed in a skill. Not even Athletics. On the other hand Agility is given in examples for Athletics, Larceny, Legerdemain, Medicine, Stealth, Survival and Teamster, as well as being used in Combat Pools, Proficiencies as Skills, Tackling, and for Throwing things. Even the Chase Scene example on p100 uses an opposed Agility/Athletics roll to determine who wins in a footrace!

Its not hard to see that given the current setup it is a no brainer to always take Cunning over Speed unless it would cost you 2 character points. nemedeus and I each independently came to the same conclusion DRaziel29 did, that Speed should be used in positioning rolls. It would also make sense to force Speed to be used in moving around the battlefield in a Skirmish.
Benedict wrote:Still I believe that heavier weapons should have a CP penalty like armor, not different TNs.
Wow. I would be so on board with this.

A TN shift is worth about a 20% penalty, which we know from TROS was too large and made weapons with more than 1 level of penalty almost unusable. For pools of around 15, a 1CP penalty is a flat 6.7% penalty, making it a far more reasonable and granular increment. Bob already has fractional CP in armor, so you could even go all the way down to to 1/4 CP penalty for weapons too if you liked (down to 1.7% penalty increments). I particularly love this solution for a bunch of reasons:
1) You could apply this to Shields too! Gone are the days of people asking why they should take a Buckler over a Scutum! The answer is: The scutum has a 1CP penalty and the buckler doesn't!
2) By having fractions of penalties for weapons and shields it shakes up cookie-cutter armor combinations that would otherwise be built to always end up with 1.75 or 2.75 CP.
3) Like armor CP, the bookkeeping is all done once, when you create the character or change equipment and doesn't need to be remembered during combat like a TN shift would. You just subsume it into the armor penalty and carry on with your day.
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by Benedict » 19 Oct 2016, 11:14

thirtythr33 wrote:I would contend that it is actually BoBs descriptions that have made this error, not DRaziel29. I just read through EVERY skill description and NONE of them gives an example of when to use Speed in a skill. Not even Athletics. On the other hand Agility is given in examples for Athletics, Larceny, Legerdemain, Medicine, Stealth, Survival and Teamster, as well as being used in Combat Pools, Proficiencies as Skills, Tackling, and for Throwing things. Even the Chase Scene example on p100 uses an opposed Agility/Athletics roll to determine who wins in a footrace!
True, did a thorough read of Skills too and came up with the same conclusion. Still I feel that this is part of Beta and Speed should have more applications. I believe that the Chase scene example should have been handled by Speed/Athletics instead of Agility/Athletics. Unless it becomes a chase on rooftops, where Agility should replace Speed.
thirty33 wrote:Speed should be used in positioning rolls. It would also make sense to force Speed to be used in moving around the battlefield in a Skirmish.
Totally agree on this. By definition:
pg 30 wrote:Speed (SP)
Speed represents the character’s ability to project fast-twitch muscle force and how quickly their body responds to and can carry out commands. It is a significant part of movement and reaction time, and plays into combat as well.

So far Speed is explicitly used for Speed Contests, everything else is left down to context and GM ruling. Unless it is used for Positioning and Skirmish movement by default too, it seems that Speed is not in reality what its description says. :)
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by thirtythr33 » 19 Oct 2016, 13:19

Also, about this whole Dodge vs Parry thing. Parry is currently better in just about every situation using the current rules. In the real world, (in my experience fencing atleast) dodging is the preferred option. The reason being, that if you dodge you don't get hit at all but if you parry you might only deflect or soften the blow and still be hit at weaker force. The way to model this would be to leave dodge the same (if you win, you take 0 damage) but to change Parry such that your opponent always gets to apply their damage, even if they lose. The difference is that if your opponent has a large damage modifier, you could still take damage even if you rolled a higher MOS. For example:

Current rules:
I get MOS3 parry, enemy gets MOS2 attack. Nothing happens.

Proposed rule:
I get MOS3 parry, enemy gets MOS2 attack.
Damage is calculated:
MOS2 + STR4 + DR3 - MOS3 - AV2 - STAM2 = level 2 wound.

I do understand this isn't an elegant rule and that it probably won't be included because it's a rule exception, but I hope there is some rule in the Bestiary that stops you being able to parry very large attacks, like a troll swinging a tree. That should be dodge or block only, and something like a dragon swinging it's tail at you should be dodge only.
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by Korbel » 19 Oct 2016, 14:00

The proposef rule would probably make high strentgh, power swinging axes and bardiches characters quite popular. I can see this in viking-based campagns, characters with axes (and shields to counter this tactic?) doing massacre :)
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by higgins » 19 Oct 2016, 14:04

thirtythr33 wrote:I would contend that it is actually BoBs descriptions that have made this error, not DRaziel29. I just read through EVERY skill description and NONE of them gives an example of when to use Speed in a skill. Not even Athletics. On the other hand Agility is given in examples for Athletics, Larceny, Legerdemain, Medicine, Stealth, Survival and Teamster, as well as being used in Combat Pools, Proficiencies as Skills, Tackling, and for Throwing things. Even the Chase Scene example on p100 uses an opposed Agility/Athletics roll to determine who wins in a footrace!
That's probably because we finished the Skills chapter waaaaay before we added the Speed attribute (we originally had 7 attributes).

Good catch though! And credit to Draziel as well.
Benedict wrote:Still I believe that heavier weapons should have a CP penalty like armor, not different TNs.
So, basically a streamlined version of having +X activation cost for every maneuver. That would mesh with our armor system. Hmm...
thirtythr33 wrote:Also, about this whole Dodge vs Parry thing. Parry is currently better in just about every situation using the current rules. In the real world, (in my experience fencing atleast) dodging is the preferred option.
I don't think you're dodging most of the time. You're doing slip & strike instead.
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by Korbel » 19 Oct 2016, 14:18

higgins wrote:That's probably because we finished the Skills chapter waaaaay before we added the Speed attribute (we originally had 7 attributes).

Good catch though! And credit to Draziel as well.
Hey! And why do you think I was recently asking if Speed\Athletics should be the pool for running around the combat field? :D man, give me some credits too 8-)
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by Benedict » 19 Oct 2016, 14:52

higgins wrote:
Benedict wrote:Still I believe that heavier weapons should have a CP penalty like armor, not different TNs.
So, basically a streamlined version of having +X activation cost for every maneuver. That would mesh with our armor system. Hmm...
What I had in mind was CP = (Ag + Cu + Prof) - (Armor + Weapon + Shield). The heavier/bulkier/unwieldy your gear of choice the less CP you start to play with. Great protection and great power should come at some cost. Armor has that already built in with CP Penalty. Likewise weapons, and shields as thirty33 rightly pointed out, could have a CP Penalty too.

For example a messer could be at -0.1 CP, a langes messer at -0.2 CP, and a kriegsmesser at -0.4 CP. Using two messers at once would be -0.2 total. Combine all the modifiers from armor / weapons / shields to calculate total CP penalty, always rounding down fractions. Ofc all these numbers are out of my head and it needs a lot of testing to achieve a balanced and working set.

Maneuver ACs would stay the same, as you pay the price of using heavier gear at CP calcuation. No need to make every swing even harder. :)
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by higgins » 19 Oct 2016, 14:59

I meant that the traditional way of doing this would be to up the maneuver activation costs on certain proficiencies. You're suggesting a CP penalty, which is effectively the same thing, but more granular and doesn't require extra bookkeeping during combat.
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by Benedict » 19 Oct 2016, 15:02

Exactly. The more granular and static the modifiers the better for everyone to make combat as fast as possible. As a GM I'd dread to have to keep track of different TNs per weapon per character or different maneuver cost per weapon per character. A flat CP penalty based on gear used is a lot easier for everyone to track down.
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by thirtythr33 » 19 Oct 2016, 15:20

I would keep it to increments of 0.25 like with armor.

Something like:
0.00 Daggers, crossbow
0.25 Buckler, 1 handed weapon, shortbow, adding a guige to your shield
0.50 medium shields, 2 handed weapons
0.75 chain weapons, longbow
1.00 large shield
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Re: Some miscellaneous questions about combat

Post by dra » 04 Dec 2016, 05:33

Hi there.

I hope DRaziel29 won't take an offense but I also have "some miscellaneous questions about combat".

1. I understand it's beta but where is damage table for ranged weapons? Am I supposed to make it up myself?
2. Is there a reason for a warrior to put points in Strength? It does not affect damage in any way. Also, damage soak is affected by Stamina. Was it really important to have 2 attributes instead of 1?
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